Welcome back for another weekly review of Avatar! This week, we go behind enemy lines with “Imprisoned.” How does the episode hold up? Here are my thoughts.
1. Katara, The Hero!
It took six episodes, but we finally get some major development for Katara. Emotional, passionate, and still a little naive, she pushes her way into a situation she has no connection to just because she feels a need to help. This is the strong character we’ve been waiting for, laying dormant over the past few episodes while the boys had all the fun. More of this, please!
2. Team Aang’s Crazy Plans.
We also finally get one of the crazy plans that Team Aang becomes known for! Interestingly, it’s not Sokka who comes up with it this time: it’s Katara. The plan works, of course, with some humor thrown in for good measure (will the lemur line ever not be funny?). I’m loving the slow establishment of conventions, so I’m curious when Sokka will take over as the official crazy plan guy.
3. Concentration Camps.
I don’t have much to say about this, but it is significant that a Nickelodeon show in 2005 (!) had an episode about rounding up a specific group of people (Earthbenders) and sending them to a concentration camp. If there was any confusion earlier in production about how the crew could tell these stories without upsetting the network, it looks like they solved that by this episode.
4. Behind Enemy Lines.
For the first time, the main characters enter fire nation territory, even if it’s only an offshore structure. We get our first exposure to the Fire Nation chain of command beyond Zuko and Zhao, and we finally see first-hand the tyrannical rule the nation has. We also see the reactions of the victims, who have given up on fighting and just want to survive. The writers nail that hopelessness, especially in their lack of response to Katara’s speech. By the end, of course, the people do take back the power, making this a microcosm of what the team hopes to do with the world.
5. More Impressionistic Painted Backgrounds.
The backgrounds in this episode appeared less realistic than in past episodes, yet still great. The impressionistic style surprised me in the opening shot of the episode, where the long trees are clearly just brown watercolor brush strokes with a few dots in places to represent leaves. You can even see the grain of the paper it was painted on! None of this is a bad thing. It still worked well in context. it’s just interesting in that it differed a bit from previous episodes.
What did you think of the episode? Let me know in the comments!